|A Peverley shot goes off Holtby's glove and in for Boston. (Getty Images)|
WASHINGTON -- Every goaltender has a book. Like any novel it might take a little while to write, but eventually it is written.
Holtby, pressed into action for these playoffs because of injuries to Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth, the 1-2 this season for the Capitals, was virtually unbeatable in the two games in Boston. In almost nine periods of action he only surrendered two goals. Because of Washington's lack of offense that only yielded one win, but you'll take that on the road to open a series. The Bruins had a code to crack as Holtby looked locked in.
It might have taken the Bruins a couple of rough drafts to find all of the right words to pen theirs on Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby. A theme you might see in it is the phrase "glove hand."
OK, that's a synopsis, the ultra-quick Cliff's Notes version. If you want to get a little more detailed, and perhaps more accurate, you could describe it as shooting for the far post, taking advantage of perhaps Holtby cheating on his angles. On this night that often resulted in it going to Holtby's glove hand. It burned him once and arguably twice. The first goal of the night for Boston was a shot from the circle from Rich Peverley that skipped off Holtby's glove and in.
There were other times that Holtby had the puck glance off his glove too.
Or if you want to listen to the Bruins, there was no different plan in Game 3. There was no book authored after the first two near-flawless performances, no tips of any kind?
"Not really," said Brian Rolston, who scored a goal moments after Holtby failed to snag an airborne puck in his glove. "We did our pre-scouting like every team does on goalies. He's been terrific in this series. He made a lot of huge saves again tonight. We had a couple around that net that we scored but he played really well for them."
So the mission wasn't to shoot at the glove hand and/or the far post?
"No, not at all," Rolston insisted. "It happens to any goalie in this league. He went to catch that one and it went over but he made a lot of good glove saves tonight. He's a real good goalie; we understand that, we know that. He's been really good in three games."
The first two games, yes. Game 3? Well he was beatable, obviously. The Bruins beat him four times. As Rolston points out, Holtby did make some nice glove saves, but not all of them.
"We didn't have a plan," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "I mean we've had a scouting report on their goaltenders since the start of the series, it looks like they've got one on ours. That's just something that happens."
If shooting at the far post is the theme, crashing the net takes up a few chapters. For the first two games and the opening period of Game 3, the Capitals were keeping the Bruins to the outside, pretty much keeping them out of the scoring areas and away from the net. A team like Boston, with big bodies and physical players, can make a living by taking up residence in the crease.
It needed to get better for Boston, and it did.
"I thought it was improved," Julien said. "I think we got more quality shots through so I think we did a better job of that."
Forward Shawn Thornton, one of the most physical guys on the team, concurred.
"We had guys in front last game too," Thornton said. "But they do a really good job of pushing guys out and they do a really good job of blocking shots. I think that was part of the problem in the first couple games. Even if we had people in front it was almost too much traffic, pucks weren't getting through. They do a really good job of clogging that up, it's not an easy team to play against, they're really good defensively."
We haven't heard that uttered much about the Capitals over the years, now have we? But it's a fact, the drilling started by former coach Bruce Boudreau and pounded in by Dale Hunter has taken root and the Caps have become a much tougher team to penetrate. That makes life a bit easier on a goaltender.
So surely the Bruins had to have a better idea on what to do now they had some success, whether it was getting to the net or any specific plan of attack.
"You're asking the wrong guy, man," Thornton said. "I just dump pucks in."
Well then, maybe I'm giving the Bruins too much credit here.
"I guess tonight we were better shooters than we were in the first two games," Julien explained, almost in a guessing tone.
Whether or not they took a specific plan of attack and were being coy, the result was the same; they were able to break Holtby's hold on this series and actually take a lead in a game. The Bruins hadn't done that in the first two games despite a split series in Boston. Sometimes the best work is created by accident.
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